Never Ending Food in Chitedze, Malawi recently held an Open Day on May 3rd in celebration of International Permaculture Day…And what an incredible day it was! Several like-minded organizations showed up to lend a hand, set up displays, and assist with giving tours. In total, we registered over 150 people who came to the Open Day to learn more about Permaculture and to enjoy the festivities!
In honor of the United Nations’ International Year of the Soil, many of the activities had a soil-related theme. There were demonstrations on how to make compost and liquid manure, worm farming, mulching, the intercropping of legumes, how to avoid soil erosion, and how to achieve low-to-no-till agriculture. We also had food displays set up to highlight the hundreds upon hundreds of foods that Malawi could be integrating into nutritious, diversified, and sustainable agricultural systems. These displays were linked to Malawi’s 6-food group model for the achievement of true food and nutrition security. Similarly, there were displays on the the use of natural medicines, fuel-efficient stoves, income generating activities, solar power, solar drying, paper briquette making, and much more!
Joining us at the Open Day were organizations such as the Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology, which is currently Malawi’s foremost Permaculture Training Center. They set up a stand showcasing their activities, trainings, and community outreach. They even provided open-pollinated ‘heirloom’ seeds for sale!
We were also joined by representatives from Landirani Trust (also known as Africa Vision Malawi), which is a group in Malawi working on sustainable building techniques such as ‘rammed earth’ and sustainable land use design. Again, they are one of Malawi’s foremost leaders in the area of sustainable building.
The Lilongwe City Council also sent Mr. Goodfellow Phiri who is an expert on the use of human urine in agricultural systems. His efforts in the promotion of urine as a safe and natural substitute for the harmful effects of synthetic fertilizers have gained international recognition and placed him in line to win the Hivos Social Innovation Award!
Another organization in attendance at the Open Day was ‘Child Legacy International‘. This organization has set up a local health center in Malawi which runs entirely on renewable energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines. Since opening their doors in 2012, they have provided healthcare services for over 50,000 people. Along with this renewable energy focus, they have also been implementing Permaculture designs in an effort to integrate large-scale fish ponds with sustainable and diversified agricultural production. They are now able to nutritiously feed over 100 people daily from their Permaculture harvests!
In order to showcase the concept of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recyle’, we had a local community group, known as ‘New Life Permaculture’ come to display their wares for sale. This group takes plastic bags that they collect from the surrounding area, they wash them and dry them, and then knit them into all sorts of creative and functional items, such as hats, mats, bags, purses, and more. This use of ‘plastic-yarn’ has become known as ‘plarn,’ and ‘plarning’ is increasingly becoming a popular income-generating activity throughout the region from South Africa to Malawi!
Local youth also offered nutritious snacks for sale such as baobab juice, green banana sausages, African cakes, and more! There were games to win packets of open-pollinated seeds, and areas to just sit and relax and enjoy the day. It was a lot of work, but with so many people who came to help the day flowed smoothly and was a resounding success!
THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who helped out, and we hope that the incredible exchange of ideas will continue to germinate and grow into a healthier and more sustainable Malawi!